Can ad networks solve the app discovery problem?

I downloaded 6 apps in 12 minutes on Facebook the other night. I wasn’t on an app hunt, I was just scrolling through my News Feed. The action of downloading an app from an ad was as simple as liking a post. And the action of sharing that app was as simple as sharing a post.

In the App Store, you either a) hunt for apps or b) enter knowing what you’re looking for. In the case of a, it’s a laborious art (as laborious as scrolling your finger can be). You need to navigate through various lists, sort in different orders, and if you’re up for it, read reviews and descriptions. In the age of the on-demand economy, this seems like quite the ask. An alternate method is: “In Featured Apps We Trust.” Regardless, nothing is tailored to you. You either do the work, or take suggestions for the masses.

Conversely, in ad networks, apps hunt you. They know when you are sleeping, they know when you’re awake. Serving you exactly what you’re looking for is what keeps their lights on. And in the case of native ads, the action of downloading an app is not far from the action of engagement for that service. Think of said networks as your personal shopper for apps (where commission = CAC).

So do ad networks solve the app discovery problem? I think this personal-shopper-in-disguise may be one solution. Just keep doing what you’re doing (Facebooking, Tweeting, Googling, etc), and let the apps come to you.

For those interested, these are the apps that my ad-network-personal-shoppers chose for me.

Originally published at on April 6, 2015.